Government for the Public Good

Government for the Public Good

The Surprising Science of Large-Scale Collective Action

The market is often not the solution to our problems. Markets have often been the problem. Max Rashbrooke makes the convincing case for models of government that work better, as well as those to be more wary of. Greater democracy can bring with it greater equality - but, Rashbrooke warns, democracy itself is imperilled by our current levels of inequality. Fast paced, globally informed and wittily written.
– Professor Danny Dorling, Oxford University

This book provides a wide range of excellent evidence-based arguments that help counter the oft-dominant small-government ideology of our times. Its defence of democracy, government and voter competence is a story that needs to be told more.
– Laura O'Connell Rapira, Director of ActionStation

In a time of global political ferment, established ideas are coming under renewed scrutiny. Chief among them is one of the dominant notions of our era: that we should entrust markets with many of the tasks previously carried out by government.

In this wide-ranging book, Max Rashbrooke goes beyond anecdote and partisanship, delving deep into the latest research about the sweeping changes made to the public services that shape our collective lives. What he unearths is startling: it challenges established thinking on the effectiveness of market-based reforms and charts a new form of ‘deep’ democracy for the twenty-first century.

Refreshing and far-sighted, this stimulating book offers New Zealanders a new way of thinking about government and how it can navigate the turbulent world ahead.

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Print publication:
Ebook publication: Sep 2018
Pages: 352
RRP: $49.99
ISBN: 9781988545080
DOI: 10.7810/9781988545080


'‘Plan B’ for Transmission Gully', Dileepa Fonseka, Newsroom, 8 June 2020.

'Political party donations in New Zealand', Max Rasbrooke interviewed by Colin Peacock, Sunday Morning on RNZ, 16 February 2020 (audio, 7'59'').

'Articulating an alternative', book review by Julienne Molineaux, New Zealand Review of Books, Winter 2019.

'Government for the Public Good', book review by Tui Bevin, Tui Motu, August 2019.

'Book review - Government for the Public Good', Luke East, Paradise of Words, 12 March 2019.

'Max Rashbrooke talks with Bryan Bruce', (video), 7 March 2019.

'Book review - Government for the Public Good', Gerry Te Kapa Coates, Te Karaka, 18 December 2018.

'Book review - Government for the Public Good', Dean Bedford on Nine to Noon, Radio NZ, 3 December 2018.

'A book for our times', book review by David Green, PSA News, 2 December 2018.

'Government is still not working as it could', book review by Andrew Macbeth, PSA News, 2 December 2018.

'Government for the public good', Liz Waters, Gulf News, 8 November 2018.

'For the public good', Otago Daily Times, 1 October 2018.

'National Portrait: Max Rashbrooke', Philip Matthews, The Press, 29 September 2018.

'Max Rashbrooke: How to build governments which work', NZ Herald, 28 September 2018.

'Max Rashbrooke - Government for the Public Good', interviewed by Kim Hill, RNZ, 22 September 2018.

'Tax report highlights NZ's inequality issues', Max Rashbrooke, RNZ, 21 September 2018.

'The surprising evidence about how well government works', The Nation, NewsHub, 15 September 2018.

'A key battleground of our times' (PDF), PSA Q&A, Working Life, September 2018.

Click through to listen to Max Rashbrooke speaking to the Fabian Society


'His confidence that there is an alternative infuses the book; his critique of neoliberalism (a term he rarely uses) is countered in every case study chapter with examples of alternative, successful approaches to problem-solving, many sourced from overseas.' – Julienne Molineaux, New Zealand Review of Books, Winter 2019.

'I don’t know what I expected from this book, but I’m sure I didn’t expect to find what I did: a feasible way forward to a just and sustainable future, and hope.' – Tui Bevin, Tui Motu, August 2019.

'This could be a great book to renew the debate as to where democracy could or should go, and what needs to be fixed on the way. All together this is a well-presented easy read with apposite quotes from other experts in the field.' – Gerry Te Kapa Coates (Ngāi Tahu, Waihao), Te Karaka, 18 December 2018.

'To his credit he explains knotty issues clearly in this new book, and often wittily. Highly recommended as a book for our times.' – David Green, PSA News, 02 December 2018.

'This should be required reading for anyone involved in delivering or governing public services and assets.' – Andrew Macbeth, PSA News, 02 December 2018.